The Call of the Wolf: 7 Ways to Size Up Your Story
on February 4th, 2019
Ah-woo!!! I am calling you. I want to know your story. Can you hear me, howling high-pitched in the distance, like a wolf summoning its pack as the sun fades on the horizon? Come to me, and sit here by the fire.
Although it makes you feel awkward and vulnerable to lay your story bare while sitting so close to me and a raging fire, you summon the courage to speak your truth. I sit silently taking in your story, but as I lean in, I am deciphering your words, cadence, and the energy behind it, seeking its depth and width. I am sniffing all around it, gathering its scent, and trying to find the parameters of its wisdom. Closing my eyes, breathing it all in, and letting its colors repeat themselves on the insides of my eyelids. Remembering how warm my lips feel after I get a tiny lick of its blood.
As your pack leader, I get the first taste of your story, and I want to know every delicious morsel. I want to taste its origins, its message, its people, and maybe even its afterlife. I need to follow it all the way through—and beyond—its ending. You can’t really know all of this, because you’re still too close to the initial kill. It’s something you have been stalking for so long, and the shadows of the forest can play tricks on you, leading you far away from the path of your understanding.
I can set you on the right trail, but first I need to scratch the ground a bit. I need to know the size and shape of your story, to have a strong sense of your agility, so I can nudge you toward the even larger pack that will become your tribe. Is it an essay? A speech you passionately deliver to a very specific audience? A book that others will want to keep forever or gift to someone they know is going through a hard time? A movie that visually puts people right there with you?
I need to know this, probably before you do. But how can I know what at first seems unknowable? To best accomplish my divination, I will tap a stick into the burning embers, and write our answers to these questions into the air:
1. Scope and Size: Are there several stories to be told within a larger one? Do these stories seem to resonate with people when you describe them? Do they lead to deeper conversation? Is there enough to say? (Book)
2. Motivational Quotient: Is your message a simple, straightforward one that can capture an audience, rattle their cages, and leave them with a repeatable mantra they can take back and share with others? (Speech)
3. Visual Potential: Is your story best told in scenes? Are there a lot of highly visual experiences, or is it action-packed? (Movie)
4. Emotional Depth: Does this idea have all the feels? Will it grab people and rip their hearts to shreds? Will they care? (Book)
5. Talking Stick Potential: Imagine you are sitting in a circle around a campfire, passing the “talking stick.” When it is your turn, can it be told concisely and fully, with the greatest impact on others? (Speech)
6. Trailer Test: If you were to write this idea up as a movie trailer, would it accurately capture the story while inspiring others to want more? (Movie or Book)
7. But Wait, There’s More: Imagine your story is a magazine article. Does it leave you wanting much more? Does it feel like it is only an excerpt? (Book)
Of course, finding your tribe, or the audience for your story, is the ultimate goal. But working with a gifted pack leader is what will coax your story out into the open, toward its ideal path. Your pack leader, or editor, is the one person who will always tell you the truth, the one who hits you square in the seat of your vulnerability: that isn’t the real story that wants to be told. That “truth” rings false. You need to tell the story in reverse. But she will also celebrate its best qualities: when you speak, your smile is amazing. Your ideas matter. Your story deserves to be heard. All you need to do is trust, and keep telling your story until it more than hurts.
Our job here at RTC is to serve as your pack leader on the path from initial thought to connection with the hearts and minds of readers. The leader or coach’s role is to be the truth teller who leads the author to the best path forward, so the story’s impact is amplified and maximized, and continues on in a life of its own. Our mission is to be as honest and real as we can possibly be throughout the process of co-creation, so that your story rises from its embers and fills the earth and sky with powerful smoke rings that call to your tribe, your readers.
Are you ready to stand in your power, in your very best light? Trust the wolf. It is your totem, your power animal, your guide. And your story will find its way.